Luminary Loppet moved to dry land due to safety concerns

Lake of the Isles might look like an icy winter wonderland.

But here and there, signs have been posted: “Danger, keep off. Ice not safe.”

“The ice is thin,” declares Claire Wilson, the executive director of the Loppet Foundation. “Hennepin County issued a warning about thin ice on the lake.”

“I saw people ice skating, and I don’t know if I would be out there, so that makes sense to me,” adds Brandon Biermaier, of Minneapolis. “Better safe than sorry, right?”

Luminary Loppet planners say safety is why this year will be different.

“If you look out on the lake right now, you see it’s a sheet of glare ice,” explains Abby Delaney, the foundation’s sponsorship director. “We haven’t had that really deep freeze, the continual number of days that gave us confidence in the thickness of the ice.”

The biggest spoiler?

Organizers say it was those Valentine’s Day downpours.

No love lost here.

“The moment I knew we were going to have to move this luminary to land was probably in the middle of the night,” Wilson recalls. “Tuesday, early morning Wednesday, when I realized it hadn’t snowed and we had just gotten an inch of rain.”

Even with a refreeze, luminary staffers measured the ice at only eight inches: too thin – and too slick – for the expected 16,000 to 18,000 visitors Saturday.

So the new plan: for luminary lovers to stay off the lake completely— on dry land.

Officials say the last time a landlocked luminary happened was about a decade ago.

“I think it’s too bad,” says Katherine Boyce, who was jogging around the lake. “This is the first year I live close enough to just walk over. So too bad, but I understand safety comes first.”

But organizers say you’ll still be able to enjoy the luminaries, as in past years.  

“So, the parkway will be shut down,” Delaney notes. “You’ll still be able to view the ice features on the lake and we’ll move some of them closer to the pathway. The hot cocoa stands will be on land. The polar bears and the penguins, ice dancers.”

In other words, organizers say, you’ll be able to enjoy the night—- just not on the lake.   

“Oh ho!” Wilson smiles. “We’re talking at least 1400 luminaries, just ice luminaries and then thousands of luminaries for the features and five hundred ice globes that are going to be hung from the sky.”

So this year, no skiing on the lake— but walking along the parkway.

Luminary organizers advise that you be prepared to park your vehicle four to five blocks away.

They recommend you arrive at your registered time, but no earlier.

You can stay and enjoy the luminaries as long as you want.   

Meanwhile, Biermaier says ice would be nice— but it’s those northern lights he’s looking forward to.

“We’ll make the best of it, I think,” Biermaier says. “I think it will still be pretty, and hopefully people can come out and enjoy it.” You can find out more about changes at this year’s Luminary Loppet by CLICKING HERE.